Category: technology

Read with Phonics: An Interactive App to Help Your Child Master Reading

Learn to Read with Read with Fonics

Learning to read is a difficult task for children to master, the English language is not an easy language to learn! You want to support the education they are receiving at school but sometimes I find that as a parent, it is a tough job. I don’t know if I am teaching them the wrong way, is it similar to the teacher’s style and how do I teach them in an easy way that is fun and won’t discourage them. Just a small order right?

What is Read with Phonics?

Read with Phonics was developed by Sophie, a primary school teacher, who wanted to create the best way for children to learn to read but also make it fun and simple. Her method? Learning phonics! Phonics helps us to learn the sounds associated with each letter which in turns helps us to understand and read word in the English language (versus learning sight words, which is a common method in schools). The bonus? There are only forty-four sounds in the English language, which makes this method far easier for children versus trying to memorize hundreds of words. She also wanted to make it fun for children because lets face it, if they aren’t having fun children can become easily frustrated which slows down the learning process. Sophie not only created the idea, she designed the program and even loaned her voice to all the sounds you hear in the app! All of her hard work paid off when the app was launched and feedback came pouring in.

Learn to Read with Read with Phonics

How Does It Work?

The Read with Phonics app is split into four worlds: water world, forest world, lava land and jelly city. The main character, Albee the Alien, is there with your child the whole time, helping them figure out their mistakes. Your child works their way through each world letter by letter, each letter having roughly seven activities attached to it. Each activity helps your child sound out the letter, identify it in a word and match words. As your child passes each sound level, they unlock a new sound! The best part of this app? The positive reinforcement! Your child starts at zero and works their way up to a higher score.

Learn to Read with Read with Phonics

Our Thoughts

We LOVE the app! It was easy to figure out how to use, it was interactive and fun to use. I tried it out first to make sure I would be able to help our youngest but then I let him take over. He had no problem following the on-screen prompts and got a kick out of Albee (and his sound munching!). The lessons were perfect for his age (he is five) and he was able to easily correct himself when it was required. He never became frustrated with the app and instead I found him laughing and saying the sounds out loud! It was definitely age appropriate for him and very user friendly.

The graphics were perfect and visually stimulating without being overwhelming. The choice of words that accompany the sounds was very suitable for his age group. Overall, this is the perfect app to download to help your child learn to read. It is a platform that they love to use, it is fun and interactive and they can work their way through each level boosting their score and confidence. Learning the sounds that correspond to each letter is by far a better method of learning to read then memorizing.

You can purchase the app on the Apple store or Google Play. You can find more information on Read with Phonics on their website.

Disclosure: I received the Read with Phonics in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Time to Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

With two young boys and competitive soccer practices five nights a week, my car takes a beating throughout the year. At any given time, you can find water bottles, soccer balls, blankets, crayons, books and toys spread out all over the backseat (and stale food that I don’t even want to begin to think of!). For some reason, throughout the winter I can not keep on top of keeping the inside of my car clean. I know this drives my husband absolutely crazy and he has even refused to drive my car at times because of it. Since my boys play soccer, you can imagine how dirty my car carpets get, I constantly find myself cleaning! My husband recently bought me some custom car mats and they’ve been an absolute lifesaver. It’s saving me so much time and I’ll be forever grateful!

I know when we think spring cleaning, we think our home and closets but this is all the best time to also clean out and organize your car. It is the perfect time to get rid of that mess we have been ignoring because it has been too cold outside to clean up and then re-organize the space we have so that it works for not only you but your children too.

STEP ONE: Plan it Out

Our needs change in the spring/summer for not only what we need to carry in our cars for emergencies but also for extra curricular activities. You no longer need the brush for your car for snow, extra winter hats and gloves or extra bottles of salt. Instead maybe you need extra folding chairs for watching your children play sports or an extra pair of sun hats, sunscreen or first aid kit. Write it all down: the must haves, the I wants and what you already have and what you may need to purchase.

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

STEP TWO: Clear it Out

This is by far the part that I hate the most but it is definitely the most rewarding. Start off by laying a blanket down beside your car and completely empty your car. Take out everything from the front to the rear and all the small items that may have fallen in every little crook. Keep a garbage bag to the side and as you empty your car, toss away the old receipts, broken crayons or toys, coffee cups and anything else you may have acquired over the winter season.

Spring Clean Your Car with Diono

STEP THREE: Organize!

Organization is key. I am usually the most organized person in my life and in my house. My calendars are colour coordinated, I have several to do lists and I love everything neat and in its proper place. For some reason, I struggle when I try to apply this to my car. When you begin to organize your car, it is important to think of not only your own needs but the needs of your child too. If you go on longer rides, having items in the car for them stowed in an easy to reach manner is important to keep them busy (and you sane!).

Spring Clean with Diono Stow N' Go

The Diono Stow n’ Go is perfect for children as it easily attaches to the back of the driver or passenger seat and stores all of your child’s goodies tidily and in an easy to grab location. It is slim, looks tidy and matches the interior of your car with its black design. It has several pouches that zip up, which hides the toys, books and snacks that your child likes to bring on car trips. The back seat of your car (and quite possibly your spouse as in my case) will thank you!

While spring cleaning can be a bit of a pain at times, it truly helps prepare you for the new season ahead of you. You clean out the garbage and unused items and it gives you a chance to organize yourself and your children. You want to make sure that everything is clean, particuarly before you go off on a long journey, so maybe now it’s time to invest in getting something like the best car vacuum cleaner? It might make your spring clean that much easier. How do you spring clean your car? Is it a priority in your house?

Disclosure: I received a Diono Stow n’ Go in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Microsoft and Intel #FindYourJoy Top Picks

Microsoft and Computer Science

Tech products are always at the top of the many Christmas wish lists around this time of year. Even our five-year old has tech products on his! Crazy how they start so young right? But what is even more amazing is the technology that companies like Microsoft and Intel are coming up with! Our son, featured below, was playing Fruit Ninja on the TV with just hands and body movements, awesome right?

Microsoft and Intel Help You #FindYourJoy

The only problem with buying tech products is that sometimes it’s so hard to know what exactly the person wants and needs. Especially when the person you are buying for is the type that writes only laptop, tablet and video game – leaving the decision-making up to you. Microsoft and Intel understands how hard purchasing technology can be and have put together a top picks list this year and I wanted to highlight a few of my favourites!

Microsoft and Intel Help You #FindYourJoy

Number one on our list? The Xbox One S. The Xbox One S is the smallest and most compact unit made and it also plays Blu-ray movies and streams videos in 4K Ultra HD. I also loved that the unit can also play a growing number of Xbox 360 games at no additional cost. Which as a parent, I can’t help but love. There is nothing harder than purchasing a new unit to have to purchase all new games at high cost.

Microsoft and Intel #FindYourJoy Top Picks

The Xbox Design lab was introduced to us in the fall at the Xbox event in Toronto. Your little gamer can build their own personalized and unique controller. The design lab features over eight million, one of a kind options that are made to order and shipped to your door. Our eldest had so much fun designing his own personal controller and if you have a gamer in the home you know how much these controllers mean to them.


The Surface Book is another favourite pick. The Surface Book features a 6th generation INtel Core i5 or i7 and the versatility of a tablet. It has 13.5 inch detachable high-resolution touchscreen. You can sketch out ideas with the Surface Pen and most importantly it has a twelve-hour battery life.

#FindYourJoy with Microsoft and Intel

Rounding out the Microsoft and Intel Top Picks list are:

  • Surface Pro 4
  • Dell XPS 13
  • Dell Inspiron 7000
  • Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Minecraft
  • Arc Touch Mouse – Surface Edition
  • Microsoft Surface mouse and keyboard

So what does the tech lover in your home want for Christmas? Are any of the items above on their wish list?

Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Boost Concentration with Focus @ Will

Boost Your Concentration wtih Focus @ Will

Music has the power to soothe, to create energy, to relax but did you also know it can help you concentrate?

One of the hardest things I find at the office is drowning out the constant conversations, requests and noise from others around me. But somehow I have to as my works depends on it. The skill of concentrating on the task at hand is extremely important to ensure my job is done and done well. While naturally I want to think I am great at concentrating on the task at hand, this is not always the case. Neuroscience and psychology have looked into ways that we can help boost our concentration levels to produce higher quality work and Focus @ Will uses this to help boost your concentration in the best way possible – with music!

Boost Your Concentration wtih Focus @ Will

Science has discovered that after about twenty minutes in a crowded, loud environment that individuals were able to concentrate on their work while drowning out the outside noise (see there is reason behind those coffee-house study dates!). So the trick for Focus @ Will is to find something that will occupy your brain just enough to allow the other part of your mind to concentrate on the task at hand. But not all music is created the same as they found, lyrics can be distracting to workers as well as music that the listeners perhaps liked or disliked.

Boost Your Concentration with Focus @ Will

Focus @ Will has developed an array of music collections to suit your every need (I personally enjoyed the classical and focus spa). I found they helped to calm my anxiety, allow me to relax and focus on the task at hand. They did not feel distracting and the music did not bother my co-workers at all, as I kept it playing on my computer while working throughout the day. I did take recommended breaks and you can even track your focus during your session.

Boost Your Concentration with Focus @ Will

So if you are ready to get your concentration on while listening to scientifically formulated music, head over to Focus @ Will to sign up for your free trial now!

Make sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with news and more.

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Computer Science, Coding & Microsoft #CodeGeneration

Technology is evolving rapidly and you can clearly see this all around us. Items that may not have been on your radar ten to twenty years ago are common place now. The computer science sector has taken off but the skill sets needed are not there. It is projected that by 2019, the skills gap in the Canadian IT sector will be 182,000 jobs! (ICTC). That figure is astonishingly high especially when compared to the fact that one in four of Canadian youth are part of the working poor and youth unemployment is at an all time high.

So where does coding come in? It is clear that computer science and coding is the way of the future and by giving students the tools to compete in these jobs, they too can have a successful and rewarding career. Coding is a fun, exciting and unique experience that is easy to learn and something that our youth can get in to. I know for myself, I have fallen in love with the coding behind websites and watching it build up. Taking courses in coding has been an enriching experience for me over the last three months.


To encourage students to dive into the world of computer science, Microsoft is launching the #CodeGeneration campaign starting now and running through Computer Science week (December 7-13).

The campaign includes:

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, Microsoft is partnering with to offer Minecraft coding tutorials! I am sure there are many of you with Minecraft fans in the house, so this would be perfect for them to check out and get started with.

Get ready to learn, explore and code with Microsoft from now until December 13. Looking forward to seeing what you ‘code’!

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